Memphis Jewish Foundation

Pictured: Jewish Foundation of Memphis fundholders attend a training on the new donor portal, facilitated by Sarah VanderWalde, at the beginning of August. The new portal was launched as part of the Foundation’s strategic plan to improve its back-end accounting software.

The Jewish Foundation of Memphis (JFOM) marked 25 years by announcing a record achievement of more than $100 million under management. In making the announcement, Jewish Foundation of Memphis Chair Anthony Morrison acknowledged the confidence local community donors and organizations have shown in the services provided by the Foundation.

“It’s hard to believe we have been in business for a quarter century,” said Morrison. “I am so proud to be part of an organization that partners with hundreds of local Jewish philanthropists to make a real difference in our community.”

Over the course of 25 years, the Jewish Foundation of Memphis has established itself as a valued philanthropic resource for charitable families. By offering donor advised funds, designated endowments, and developing expertise in non-cash gifts including stock, real estate, and collectibles, the Jewish Foundation has become the go-to charity for families wanting to make a significant impact.

And, over the past year, with COVID impacting all of our Jewish agencies, synagogues, schools, and families, having resources to grant became even more critical. 

“Grant-making was at an all-time high over the past 16 months,” said Laura Linder President & CEO of Jewish Community Partners (JCP), the organization that manages the Jewish Foundation and the Memphis Jewish Federation.  “During the height of COVID we were communicating weekly with our local Jewish organizations and passing along their needs to our fund holders. Every week grants were made to support basic needs such as iPads, computers and cameras, and larger needs such as PPE and tents for outside worship.” Ms. Linder went on to explain that without the funds that had already been contributed to donor advised funds, needed dollars may not have been readily available.

This increase in funds, assets and needs led leadership to consider the Foundation’s role in TomorrowStrong, JCP’s combined effort to address the most pressing needs facing our Memphis Jewish community. Through internal staff promotions, re-alignment of resources, launching of a new donor portal, and a strategic planning process, JFOM will strengthen its position as the primary philanthropic resource in the Memphis Jewish community. 

“We have exciting things happening at the Foundation,” said Sheri Gadberry, Senior Philanthropic Officer and Executive Vice President of the Foundation. “At the beginning of August, we launched a new online donor platform. With a few key strokes donors can recommend grants, check their balance, and pull up past granting and gifting history.” 

In addition to launching the new donor portal, Foundation leadership assembled a committee to build an ambitious strategy for the next 25 years by launching a strategic plan. Led by JFOM Chair Anthony Morrison along with a committee of advisors and donors, the strategic plan will bring together key stakeholders of the Foundation, inviting their input into the future of the Foundation. 

“The process of pulling the strategic plan together has been enlightening and informative,” according to Sarah Vanderwalde, JFOM’s newly promoted Director of Foundation’s Programs. “We engaged a national facilitator for focus groups with fundholders and professional advisors and have developed a series of surveys. The data we gather will inform our strategies moving forward.”

“We have had an incredible year,” stated Ms. Linder. “Through our agency partners and the hundreds of donors we work with, the sky’s the limit.” If you are interested in partnering with the Jewish Foundation of Memphis to achieve your charitable goals, please contact Sarah Vanderwalde @ or 901-374-0400.

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“We are all very similar in many ways, but we live in these different communities, have different backgrounds, and have different experiences with volunteering and running programs,” said Jaclyn Marshall, one of three dynamic Memphis women nominated by Memphis Jewish Federation and selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the prestigious Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) national leadership program, Emerge. “It feels great knowing that there are all these women like us in other communities, doing great things. Making connections with these people goes a long way. We strive to get more people from our peer group involved, and figure out the best strategies on how to achieve that.”

With research suggesting that women make the philanthropic decisions in the majority of households, this new and highly selective initiative seeks to inspire female philanthropists under the age of 45 who are stepping forward as Jewish female leaders.

“Engaging and empowering the next generation of Jewish community leaders is a priority for Memphis Jewish Federation,” said Cindy Finestone, Memphis Jewish Federation board chair. “When we were approached to take part in the inaugural year of the National Women’s philanthropy Emerge leadership program, we were excited to nominate Jaclyn, Jana Weiskopf, and Elana Kahane based on their talents and have them represent Memphis. I look forward to hearing about their experiences and ideas from this program that will help us shape the future of Jewish Memphis.”

Jaclyn relocated here from San Francisco several years ago, and quickly jumped into the fold, currently serving as Vice Chair of Leadership Development for Federation’s Executive Committee, Co-Chair of its young adult initiative FedLED, and member of the Community Grants Committee. Jana, a life-long Memphian from a multi-generational Memphis family, serves as a member of the FedLED Council and the Community Grants Committee. Another life-long Memphian from a multi-generational Memphis family, Elana, is a past PTA president of the Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South and currently sits on the school’s PTA board.

“I have been surprised with how focused Emerge has been on self-discovery and self-reflection. I am recognizing that I have a greater skill set from past experiences than I realized. I’ve done this type of training before but it’s almost like I’ve been out of practice,” said Jana. “I haven’t been in the workplace or been in major leadership roles in the past decade, but thanks to Emerge, I’ve been reminded of my skill set and the value that I can bring to leadership. I get joy out of being involved, making connections, and being passionate about my goals. I’m an innate helper, so this program has been great for me.”

The 25 Emerge women from seven Federation communities are learning from peers and a broad array of Jewish communal leaders and speakers. Engaging in immersive, monthly virtual programming focusing on personal and spiritual growth, cohort and community building, and leadership training and mentorship, the program culminates with their participation in the January 2022 International Lion of Judah Conference. Post-program, these women are charged with taking home their newly-honed skills and valuable experiences to strengthen women’s philanthropy and leadership in their local communities.

“My participation in this national cohort has introduced me to inspiring leaders from across the country and helped expose me to many of the differing issues which sister Jewish communities are facing,” said Elana. “The passionate dialogue we have had has been both enlightening and empowering. I feel, with each session, that I am growing as a leader and becoming better positioned to help strengthen our wonderful Jewish community.”

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The Lion of Judah is one of the most successful fundraising tools in the world, raising millions of dollars every year and connecting more than 17,500 women around the world. The Lion of Judah is a symbol of today’s Jewish Woman’s strength, a symbol of her caring about the organized Jewish world.

For generations, Memphis Jewish women have worked together to preserve and enrich our community’s culture and heritage. More than 100 Lions of Judah proudly wear their Lion of Judah pin, a symbol of sisterhood, shared values, connectedness, and empowerment. When you become a Lion, you have a unique opportunity to secure our Jewish future, to forge new opportunities for creative philanthropy, and to influence the global agenda with the Jewish values of compassion and loving kindness.

These are their stories.

To learn more about becoming a Lion of Judah and joining this close-knit group of women, contact Laura Linder at (901) 374-0400 or

The Latest LOJ News

The Woman Behind the Pin

Phoenix, AZ
January 2-11, 2022

More Information Coming Soon

Join us in Phoenix as Memphis Lion of Judah showcases our passion and creativity when we unveil our newest initiative to our international sisterhood!

Click here to add to you calendar.

The Lions Behind the Pin

Betsy Saslawsky

Jeri Moskovitz

Dot Bilsky

Myrna Halpern

Newsletter Archive


June LOJ News

March LOJ News

February LOJ News


December LOJ News (Above)

November Event Reminder with Recipes

November LOJ News

September LOJ News

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By Emma Figarsky

Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis have both received a Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, which is the highest possible rating. Charity Navigator is the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. Federation and Foundation are currently two of twelve Four-Star charities in the Mid-South and remain among the highest rated nonprofits in the industry, with a score of 96.57 out of 100.

“Between our two organizations, we work with hundreds of donors and hundreds of charitable organizations. This ranking speaks volumes about the professionalism and dedication of our staff and leadership in making sure every dollar is making maximum impact,” said Irvin Skopp, Treasurer/Secretary of the Executive Committee of Jewish Community Partners, which operates both Federation and Foundation.

Charity Navigator rates charities by evaluating two broad areas of performance: financial health, and accountability and transparency. These ratings show donors how efficiently a charity uses their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time, and their level of commitment to being accountable and transparent.

“For decades, the Federation and Foundation have provided ways for charitably minded members of the Memphis Jewish community to support the most critical needs of Jewish families as well as achieve their personal philanthropic goals,” said Laura Linder, President and CEO of Jewish Community Partners. “Being recognized as a top-tier charitable organization is such an honor.  With all of the charitable choices donors have, this ranking helps to remind our supporters as well as the broader Memphis Jewish community that we are a trusted philanthropic partner.”  

This ranking signifies that both Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis exceed industry standards and outperform most charities in their area of work. They have been recognized for adhering to best practices while executing their mission in a financially efficient way. To learn how to make a gift to Federation’s Annual Community Campaign or open a fund at the Jewish Foundation, visit

Pictured above: Anthony Morrison, Jewish Foundation of Memphis Chair; Laura Linder, Jewish Community Partners President & CEO; Cindy Finestone, Memphis Jewish Federation Chair; and Ken Steinberg, Jewish Community Partners Chair, at the 2019 Jewish Community Partners Annual Meeting, one of the last in-person events before the pandemic. The hard and careful work of staff and lay leaders, as well as the generous involvement of hundreds of donor families in Jewish Memphis, contributed to a Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for Federation and Foundation.

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Spring cleaning, or cleaning for Passover, is a common annual event. What’s one thing that made preparing for Passover, and spring, different this year? Memphis Jewish Federation’s PJ Library Book Drop & Swap! Over the course of a week, families donate their gently used children’s books, culminating in a Book Swap event under the MJCC Pavilion, Sunday, March 14.

Thanks to many volunteers, and event chair and PJ Library Committee member Amy Collier, over 1,000 books were sorted and displayed for families to select for free, along with a special PJ Library Memphis Passover Fun Kit that included a craft, game, and more!

Shaina Zakalik, parent of three PJ Library kids, stopped by with her family to browse books. “The book swap was such a GREAT event!  We had such a great time and left with so many good books,” she said.  “The kids were so happy!  I hope you will make this an annual or even semi-annual event. We have a ton of books I can donate to the next one.”

“The kids have loved the books. Some we have been reading as bedtime books, and others the kids have simply picked up to read or look at on their own,” said Wendy Kleinman, parent of two PJ Library children. “They were especially fascinated by Jean Lafitte: The Pirate Who Saved America, so a big thank you to whoever donated that one! We haven’t read them all yet but I was really grateful for the opportunity to pick up some new books for free, both Jewish and secular, that I thought would interest our children.”

The remaining books will be donated to free libraries, and thanks to volunteer Jamie Magdovitz Johnson, many were donated to the Black Clergy Collaborative of Memphis, among other organizations. 

If your child is not already enrolled in PJ Library, a free program that sends Jewish-themed books to children from 0-12 years every month, we hope you’ll sign them up: If you have any questions, email Federation’s Miriam Roochvarg at

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Though her hometown of Augusta, Georgia’s Jewish community was tiny, Memphis Lion of Judah Jeri Moskovitz nonetheless enjoyed an abundance of Jewish engagement opportunities because of intentional decisions by her parents. Her JCC President dad, Haskell Toporek, and Hadassah President mom, Dale, made sure Jeri and her siblings were plugged in and Jewishly engaged.

“Our parents wanted us to have Jewish connections, which was not easy in Augusta. They made sure it happened,” said Jeri. “We were very involved with BBYO. I went on a BBYO trip to Israel in high school. They also sent us all to Jewish camps, Blue Star and Barney Medintz. We were very involved at the Augusta JCC. We went to JCC day camp in the summer, and every Jewish kid in Augusta swam on the JCC swim team.”

Jeri and her siblings also showed early ambitions as leaders, each being elected president of their elementary and/or middle schools.  Jeri points again to the influence of her parents in fostering these aspects of her personality and leadership abilities.

“There were discussions at the dinner table. We ate together every night, the six of us. Mom would leave early for a Hadassah meeting, or Dad was going to be late because of a meeting of some sort. I knew my parents were going to meetings. I knew they were involved,” she said.

She met her husband Mitch, a Memphian, as an undergrad at University of Georgia, and the two relocated to Memphis to attend the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Eager to plug in and make connections in Jewish Memphis, Jeri immediately became a BBYO advisor here.

“It’s funny, but I’m friends now with people who were in BBYO when I was their advisor,” she said.  

Talk about plugging in; concurrent to launching her law career, mostly doing bankruptcy creditors work, she rolled up her sleeves and went all in as a volunteer and lay-leader, doing her small part to help shape Jewish Memphis. By her mid-20s, she sat on the Memphis Jewish Federation board and a few short years later received Federation’s Rabbi Arie Becker Young Leadership Award.

Jeri served on Federation’s Community Grants Committee for 15 years, while also contributing to various committees and subordinate boards along the way. Today, she serves on the boards for both Bornblum Jewish Community School and Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab, despite the fact that her kids, Mallory and Matthew, attended in the days it was known as Solomon Schechter, and she has yet to have a loved one require the services of MJH&R. Lately, she’s even involved as a volunteer in city government, working on Mayor Jim Strickland’s first campaign and now serving on the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Center City Revenue Finance Corporation.

While serving in these various leadership positions, Jeri began to feel a connection to a convergence of her interests and her passion through event planning. Some of her favorite events that she helped plan were Federation’s Chopped cooking competition event in 2014, Bornblum’s (then Solomon Schechter) memorable Dancing with the Stars, and Jewish Family Service’s This is Where I Leave You Movie Night fundraisers, before the organization bore the Fogelman name. She loves continuing to annually plan the successful Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival.  

“I love it when people say ‘Wow, that was fun’ or ‘That was so creative,’” she said. “I’m social and enjoy having a good time. I appreciate bringing events to fruition, and seeing people enjoy being together around a common cause.”

In 2017, Jeri stopped practicing law and it was around then that she became a Memphis Lion of Judah. Always a donor to Federation’s Annual Campaign, she had been a Pomegranate for a number of years when she and Mitch felt the time was right to increase their giving level.

“Before I joined, I perceived the Lions as a group of women who were strong leaders in the community, women that wanted to make a difference. They were on boards with me, they were involved in the things I did, and I aspired to be part of the Lions,” said Jeri. “Women who are drawn to Lion of Judah do it simply because they want to help in any way they are able, and I felt that deeply.”

“Our Lions represent a wide range of women with a multitude types of backgrounds. It’s a bright, intelligent, driven group, and the kind of women with whom you would want to surround yourself. We share a goal of making a difference in the world, with a significant focus on Memphis,” she said.

Officially becoming a Lion was an emotional moment for Jeri, and she remembers vividly seeing her pin for the first time. After all of the years of giving of herself both financially and as a volunteer, she had arrived to a donation level she had strived to reach.

And to the woman who today finds herself in Jeri’s shoes a decade ago, outside of the powerful sisterhood of Lions but knowing in her heart she will someday step up, she offers a bit of advice.

“Stay active, focus on what you need to at this time in your life. The Lions will be there for you when you are ready, hopefully sooner than you envisioned. There will come a time when you say ‘I’m ready, and I’m there, and it’s time to surround myself with these outstanding women,’” she said.

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In a strangely disconnected year, Dot Bilsky has relied on her long affiliation with the Memphis Jewish Federation Lions of Judah as a way to stay connected to the people and places she loves in Jewish Memphis.

“I became a Lion because my husband signed me up, and I am very grateful he did. With the support of Federation, Lion of Judah identifies needs and gives people like me a chance to do the most good with greater impact,” she said. “And now with the pandemic, the Lions are even more active because there’s more need. We respond to what’s out there. That’s what it means to be part of this sisterhood.”

A long-time Lion, Dot serves on the LOJ Tikkun Olam Committee, serves on Federation’s Senior Services Collaborative, is involved in her synagogue, and has even become something of a volunteer IT support professional for an expanding circle of friends and acquaintances during the quarantine. She has a habit of stepping in to help others meet needs and is grateful for the many opportunities provided to make a difference.

She offers the Lion’s recent Baby Shower initiative as an example of how she benefits from her connections. Led by the Tikkun Olam Committee, the Shower was launched to help Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center stock its brand-new Baby Pantry, designed to ensure families in the community have access to the essentials needed to care for babies and young children.

“The Baby Shower proves my point about what Federation does for me as a Lion. I didn’t know there were babies in our community needing help, nor could I have done anything about it without the support of Federation and the Lions,” she said. “We got the word out and took in an enormous amount of supplies for the Baby Pantry. That’s the Lions. They want to do things that help. And when you ask them, they go above and beyond.”

Dot had another first-hand glimpse of the connecting power of Federation as a peripheral player in this summer’s Tech Buddy initiative, designed to help seniors in the community stay connected through technology. 

“Part of my job at Memphis City Schools and later with Apple Computers was to help people use computers in the classroom,” she said. “I got involved helping people with their new Federation-provided iPads through the back door. I’m in a book club and two of the people couldn’t participate.  I made pictures of ipad screens and added arrows to show where to click and how to get to the home screen, the mail envelope, and how to read an email or join a Zoom meeting. Word got out and people asked me to help with different things. The initial training they got from the Tech Buddy was excellent, but I was able to help them do new things they wanted to learn.”

“Just yesterday I helped a friend of mine get online because she wanted to join a Beth Sholom seniors discussion group on Zoom,” she said. “We were going down the projects that Beth Sholom had planned and while she was scanning through the list, she said: ‘Oh my gosh, Baron Hirsch is making sandwiches- we always did that.’”

“I said ‘Yeah, but this year people are doing it from home.’ She said ‘I want to do it!’  So she helped Baron Hirsch make sandwiches.”

Ultimately, Dot’s connection to the community through the Lions is precious to her, and something she doesn’t take for granted. It’s through this sisterhood that she is able to satisfy her urge to help people in the community in a meaningful way.

“I’ve helped with things that I didn’t even know were problems before Federation directed us there,” she said.  “As Lions, we not only want to give money, we want to be involved.  That’s how a lot of the women feel.  The Federation identifies needs and organizes us to make a bigger impact.  I am most grateful for what Federation and the Lions do for me and others like myself.”

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“I’m a new Lion of Judah this year, so I went into this conference with no expectations,” said Memphis Lion Janice Ringel, our correspondent ‘on the ground’ at the International Lion of Judah Conference. “If it had been an in-person conference, being so new as a Lion I probably would not have gone. But because it was virtual, I decided to tune in and see what it was all about.”

On January 24 and 25, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) held its biennial conference, attended by almost 5,000 of its member Lions, Jewish communal professionals, and leaders, and for the first time did so virtually. In another first, the event was open to all women this year, rather than Lions of Judah exclusively.

“It far exceeded my expectations. With a diverse line up of impactful speakers, compelling breakout sessions, and inspiring music, it grabbed my attention and never let go,” said Janice. “One thing that struck me more than anything was the incredible scope of women that it was reaching. Not even just across the U.S. but throughout the world. I was amazed by the collective power of this sisterhood that these women feel for each other. They bring that same power to the goals they set and the change they aim to elicit.”

(Above) Memphis Lions had the opportunity to interact with their counterparts from the Louisville Jewish community, discussing what each woman found impactful from the conference programs they attended.

More than 50 women, Lions and their guests, represented Memphis at the virtual conference. Those who were unable to attend can view the entire ILOJC online using the email you registered with or by using You can also browse shorter videos of individual segments on the Conference Vimeo page.

According to Janice, every segment was enriching and empowering. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and founder of, and a proud Lion of Judah, was the recipient of the inaugural Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award, featured in a segment in which both iconic women loomed large.

“The rabbi from the synagogue that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of blessed memory, attended, shared a personal perspective, and Justice Ginsburg’s granddaughter spoke, letting us witness a more personal side of RBG,” said Janice. “She’s such a powerful, larger than life figure, and it was nice to hear a individual account from a family member that grew up with her and was close with her.”

“Then, we heard Sheryl Sandberg speak and got to know her on a more unique level and not just as the Facebook COO and the influential figure that she is. More specifically, she talked about teaching her children the concept of Tzedakah using the holiday of Chanukah as an example. Rather than receiving presents on all eight nights, her children get gifts for four nights and give gifts to those in need on the other four nights. She also spoke about what Judaism and being a Lion of Judah mean to her, and it was very moving.”

Smaller breakout sessions offered opportunities to take a deep dive into hot topics, with Janice choosing to attend lectures on the BDS movement of college campuses and racial inequity. Back again with the full group of Lions, we heard from newly elected Congresswoman from North Carolina Kathy Manning, who gave a play-by-play, first-hand account of what it was like the afternoon of January 6 at the Capitol.

“Listening to her, you felt like you were right there with her and it was frightening and captivating to listen to. It brought you into the room with all the emotions and fear that were probably going through everyone’s minds as it was unfolding,” said Janice.

The women who step up to become Lions of Judah are drawn to it for personal reasons, but because of their emotional connection, they bring their families and their peers into the group’s orbit. Becoming a Lion is a demonstrative act, which is becoming clearer as we see second and third generation Lions step up.

“During the conference, we heard from next-generation Lions, the daughters of Lions, and that really gave me hope for the future,” Janice said. “Young people learn by what’s going on in the home, from example and what your parents teach you. There are lessons that women can teach their children about giving back to your local community, not just monetarily but by your actions. Then you take it one step further and you give back to your country and try to evoke change. And then another step and you’re asking ‘what can I do to make the world a better place?’”

“It all starts in the home and you get a sense that these women are trying to pass on and model this behavior for the next generation.”

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Momentum is swelling behind a group of young adults – some new to Memphis, others born and raised here – committed to Memphis Jewish Federation’s efforts to care for, connect, and engage Jewish people of all ages through a wide array of programs and services.

Formerly known as YAD (the Young Adult Division of Memphis Jewish Federation) FedLED emerged this year after a strategic rebranding process. Driven by young professional volunteer leaders from the Memphis Jewish community, FedLED’s work focuses on leadership, education, and fundraising. FedLED Co-Chairs Jaclyn Marshall and Martin Klazmer recruited a council whose members Emily Lennon, Jana Weiskopf, Daniel Snyder, and advisors Jason Goldstein and Aviva Freiden, are collaborating to craft opportunities to elevate young adult leadership to the next level.

After a series of popular and well attended FedLED virtual networking breakfasts for young professionals, the first open-to-the public program will be the FedLED Children’s Clothing Sale, to be held January 31 under the MJCC Pavilion. Donations of gently used children’s clothing and shoes are already being accepted at the Jewish Community Partners offices, inside the MJCC.

“As someone who is a direct product of what this community has provided, I’ve naturally always had the desire to nourish and nurture the community myself,” said native Memphian Martin. “Now as an adult who has returned to Memphis with my own family, the timing is right and the opportunity is here with FedLED. Younger people in this community need to know that older generations are looking to us to step up and be involved in whatever capacity we are able and FedLED will serve as a stepping stone for those who are. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this organization.”

Unlike Martin, Jaclyn is a newer Memphian, and had not been involved in Jewish communal activities in California. “There was not much sense of community living in San Francisco,” she said. “In Memphis, I met moms with small kids through my own children, and now we see each other all the time.”

From these first feelings of belonging to a cohesive Jewish community, Jaclyn eventually made her way to Federation. Her first in-depth conversation with a Federation staff member opened her eyes to the organization’s tireless efforts in Jewish Memphis. “It was mind blowing,” she said. “I not only wanted to give money but wanted to give more of my time.”

She was asked to serve as a co-moderator for a Federation Women’s Philanthropy program, interviewing Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, founder of OPI Nail Lacquer, in the MJCC’s Belz Social Hall. The well-attended event sparked a new interest in Federation activities throughout the community for Jaclyn, leading her to FedLED.

“Our goal is to hold a series of fundraising events – big and small – that get people excited,” said Jaclyn. “By creating exciting events, like wine and whisky tastings, we’ll offer fun ways for people to give back while learning about Federation. It’s important to introduce our generation to the Federation model of community support through donations, and help cultivate a culture of long-term donors for decades to come.”

Having had successful experiences with clothing sales back in California, Jaclyn thought a similar initiative would be a good fit for a key FedLED demographic- Jewish parents. In addition to offering something they need, the event would also be an excellent platform to introduce FedLED to potential members.

FedLED’s Children’s Clothing Sale will be held Sunday, January 31, 1:00 to 4:00 P.M., under the MJCC Pavilion. Federation is accepting donations of gently used children’s clothing and shoes Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at the Jewish Community Partners office, located at 6560 Poplar Ave, inside the MJCC. Donated items will be sorted and sold at the socially distanced clothing sale at the end of the month. Proceeds from the clothing sale will go towards Federation’s Home-Delivered Meals Program for isolated seniors. Masks and social distancing will be strictly enforced.

FedLED is also looking for volunteers to help sort clothing ahead of the sale and to staff the sale itself. Tasks include sorting donated goods into different categories, setting up stations at the sale, and helping with touch-free payment transactions. To volunteer, email or call Sophie Bloch, Director of Young Adult Leadership, or 901-452-2453.

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By Sophie Bloch, Director of Hillels of Memphis

Over these last few months, I have often thought back to my own college experience and what it would have felt like to be starting a new school year during a pandemic. I studied dance and theater, so time and time again I came back to the age-old adage that “the show must go on.” And go on, it did! In spite of physical distancing and students scattered around the country, we were still able to honor the essence of what makes Hillel.

After an incredible pilot Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF) series in the spring, twenty students participated in JLF this semester. Because JLF was virtual this semester, we were able to combine students from Rhodes College and University of Memphis into one cohort to learn together. The pandemic has put many other quintessential college activities on pause, which has left more availability for more people to participate in Jewish learning; many of the students taking advantage of virtual JLF this semester otherwise wouldn’t have been able to participate due to their class schedule, athletics, or work obligations.

We also launched a virtual learning series with Jewish faculty from Memphis universities to spotlight the incredible Jewish intellectual talent we have here in Memphis for the entire Memphis Jewish community to enjoy. Named “On One Foot” in honor of the parable about Hillel the Elder teaching a student the “entire Torah while standing on one foot: treat others how you’d like to be treated,” each program in the series features a Jewish academic speaking on their area of expertise. Each lecture was recorded and archived on the Hillel website so future learners can enjoy the lectures as well.

(Above) Professor Victor Coonin, Professor of Art and Art History at Rhodes College, spoke about “Michelangelo, Moses, and Black Lives Matter” to discover what Michelangelo’s depictions of Moses can teach us about contextualizing problematic statues from the Civil War era.

Crisis calls for Jews to step up, which is something eight Hillel student interns learned this semester during a new Fundraising and Development Internship in partnership with Memphis Jewish Federation. Students learned about the Jewish values of philanthropy as well as valuable communication skills for fundraising that will translate to any future career, all while having the opportunity to get paid for remote work. The students in this leadership role set the tone for meaningful involvement in Hillel and Jewish communal life for their peers, all while Memphis Jewish Federation got support from students in securing pledges for its Annual Community Campaign.

Even though classes were virtual this semester, many students were living in Memphis either with their families or in their off-campus apartments. Because of this, we hosted small outdoor socially distant Shabbat dinner celebrations at the Morris S. Fogelman Jewish Student Center at University of Memphis. In-town students from both campuses came together to safely celebrate Shabbat and holidays together, providing a much-needed opportunity for connection and spirituality.

The semester wouldn’t have been complete without Hillel swag- and the best part about Hillel swag is that it travels! Without the usual milestones to mark time, we benchmarked the semester with care packages that were either mailed or hand-delivered to students in honor of the start of the semester, Rosh Hashanah, and finals week. As a result of receiving care packages throughout the semester, students felt included in the Hillels of Memphis community no matter where they were spending their semester.

Whether it was through remote learning opportunities, leadership development, outdoor Shabbat and holiday celebrations, or receiving goodies in the mail, Hillel students brought their best selves forward. We have so much to learn from the compassion, dedication, and resilience of our young adult community, and now more than ever I am confident that the future of the Jewish people will thrive in their hands.

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